Arsenal’s success in the Premier League era has largely been a reflection of who they have had protecting their nets.
Stability between the posts followed in the first decade of Premier League competition, with a seamless goalkeeping transition maintaining their success.
However, after moving to the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal’s goalkeeping position had become one marked by chaos and instability until Mikel Arteta stumbled upon the man who could potentially guard the Gunners’ goal for the next decade.
Here are the ten best Arsenal goalkeepers of the Premier League era.
It’s been a whirlwind of a journey for the future 2022 World Cup hero, who enjoyed loan spells at Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham before finally getting his big break at Arsenal.
A decade after signing from Independiente in 2010, Emiliano Martinez was widely praised for his performances amid the club’s journey towards the FA Cup, earning a £20million move to Aston Villa on the back of his displays.
Originally signed as Jens Lehmann’s back-up, Manuel Almunia earned plenty of minutes as the German’s form dipped, eventually becoming the club’s number one.
However, the Spaniard remained Arsene Wenger’s primary shot-stopper for an oddly long time, even when it became clear he was not cut out for the job.
While a respected figure in the dressing room and a loyal servant, Almunia was certainly not the best goalkeeper Arsenal have had on their books.
David Ospina was Arsenal’s number one for a short period, but he was only signed to give stiffer competition to Wojciech Szczesny.
The Colombia international eventually earned the starting job and proved a fundamentally sound keeper throughout his Gunners tenure. However, his small frame meant fans were never convinced by Ospina despite his consistent form and he was quickly usurped by Petr Cech in 2015.
His appearances were often limited to cup competitions thereafter.
Alex Manninger hadn’t gained a wealth of top-level experience when he was signed by the Gunners in 1997. However, the Austrian goalkeeper proved a reliable second-in-command to David Seaman during his five years at the club.
Manninger recorded six consecutive Premier League clean sheets in his first season and would go on to make 64 appearances for the Gunners. Richard Wright’s arrival from Ipswich signaled the end of his time in north London, although Wenger might have wanted him to hang on.
Bernd Leno didn’t fail much in his time at the Emirates. The Mikel Arteta project simply developed beyond the German.
While Leno was an excellent shot-stopper, producing one of the most outrageous double saves in a North London Derby in 2019, his limitations with the ball at his feet meant he was never compatible with Arteta and his ideals.
Hopes were high for Poland’s current number one when he first broke into the Arsenal team after an impressive loan spell at Brentford in 2009/10.
Wojciech Szczesny had spent three years in Arsenal’s youth set-up before becoming the club’s starter in the 2010/11 season. Despite some low moments – the 2011 League Cup final and the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford stand out in this regard – the Pole did well after getting the job.
He shared the Golden Glove with Petr Cech in 2013/14, but his form took a dip the following season. Although he would go out in style as he kept a clean sheet in Arsenal’s 2015 FA Cup final win over Aston Villa.
Szczesny later blossomed into an outstanding goalkeeper at Juventus.
Petr Cech’s overall time at Arsenal isn’t exactly looked back on with great fondness due to his marked drop in performances towards the end of his spell in north London.
But for the first few years, the all-time great Premier League maintained its high levels of performance. He won his fourth Golden Glove in 2015/16 and helped Arsenal to the FA Cup in 2016/17, although he actually missed the final through injury.
The Czech keeper looked old in the final days of his Arsenal tenure and he was eventually succeeded by Bernd Leno as the Gunners’ number one after Unai Emery replaced Arsene Wenger.
Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal splashed £30million to sign a goalkeeper who had just suffered back-breaking Premier League relegations.
However, Aaron Ramsdale was Sheffield United’s Player of the Year in 2020/21, and Mikel Arteta identified the Englishman as the man to hold down the fort in Arsenal’s goals for the next many years.
It didn’t take long for Ramsdale to usurp Bernd Leno on the depth chart and he quickly endeared himself to the Emirates faithful. The 25-year-old has played a key role in Arsenal’s development under Arteta, with the goalkeeper embodying everything the Spaniard’s project is about.
Jens Lehmann had the unenviable task of replacing the club’s greatest ever goalkeeper in 2003 when he was brought in from Borussia Dortmund.
However, the German’s first year in north London could not have gone better as the Gunners lifted the Premier League title without losing. Lehmann started every single game that season and kept 15 clean sheets.
His second wasn’t quite as good as Manuel Almunia earned minutes, but he rebounded in 2005/06 when he starred amid the club’s run to the Champions League final. Lehmann kept a remarkable ten consecutive clean sheets in the competition and went 853 minutes without conceding a goal.
His unfortunate red card in Paris signaled the end of Lehmann’s best for the north London club, but he would spend a further two seasons with Arsenal before returning to Germany and even briefly returning for a game in 2011.
Of course it is.
The club’s best ever goalkeeper is one of the finest shot stoppers England has ever produced and David Seaman must be regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation anywhere in the world.
Seaman was Arsenal’s number one for well over a decade, making the sixth most appearances in the Gunners’ history (405) and winning three league titles in north London. He was twice named in the PFA team of the year and twice also finished the Premier League season with the most clean sheets.
While Jens Lehmann briefly did, no Arsenal goalkeeper has come close to matching Seaman’s composure and stability between the sticks.